Sunday, December 14, 2008

New Blogspace

Ok everybody. We're making a greater leap into our new home at changtheworld. Start updating your links, and see you there!

Friday, December 12, 2008

And the winner is...

Lovely "Martha Stewart" bluegreen colored paper. Actually, these papers come from a bottle of gum sold in Japan. hehehe The gum makers include a pad of papers in each bottle for when you want to dispose of your gum. Omoshiroi. Interesting. Mark never uses the paper to throw out his gum, so we've got these little tiny pads of paper floating around the house.

Poor Evan looks wasted. He actually wasn't feeling well when I asked him to pick a name from the bowl. He's a trooper.

Congratulations, Kaneyuki's! Its your lucky day! I'm sending a package of Japanese candies and snacks your way.

Thank you to all of you out there for keeping up with my little personal challenge and commenting or just lurking. Its been fun reading every one's comments!

I think the most interesting part of my daily bloggings has been finding out who's reading my ramblings. I guess in my mind I still think that its just some friends and family reading, but it really is bigger than that. I'm in touch with lots of old and new friends and friends I've never met in real life.

Its a nice reminder that the Internet isn't just a virtual space of zeros and ones, but that there's real people on the other side who, like me, appreciate being heard. So thanks for reading. Thanks for making me feel like I matter. :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

One Post a Day for a Month, Check!

I did it! I really did it. I've always wondered if I could really blog everyday. Questioning my own stick-to-it-tive-ness. And I'm glad I made the commitment and completed it. I don't know if I'll continue this habit. I am so tired by the time I find time to type that I'm worried my posts will get more and more uninteresting and nonsensical. :) 

I spent a couple hours getting the latest order of clips finished and ready for delivery. While I work I usually listen to my stations on Pandora. And today I was listening to Christmas music sung in the stylings of artists like Michael Buble, Tony Bennet, Josh Groban, and old big band/jazz/Americana type Christmas songs. I love listening to these types of songs, because it reminds me of Seattle. The Christmas versions remind me of Christmas in Seattle. And Christmas in Seattle has a very special place in my heart. 

Mark and I met in a Cantonese class at BYU, and somehow we found out that our families only lived 20 mins away from each other in Seattle. So we decided to book the same flights going home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, because traveling is much nicer when you have someone to talk too. The three years following that, we dated on and off and on and off and on, but every Christmas we were always together. It just worked out that way. So we have lots of wonderful memories of Christmases and New Years, exploring together places in Seattle area we haven't been to in years and showing each other our old haunts. Going home for Christmas, where we were free from homework and in between semesters at BYU, that we felt like we were going away on vacation together. But at the end of the day we'd go back to our parents houses! :) 
So Christmas time always reminds me of when Mark and I were dating. 

Fast forward to our third Christmas together. We just survived a summer of separation, when Mark went to Japan for study abroad, and we both came away from that experience learning that we didn't want to be with anyone else. 

On Christmas morning, my family opened presents except me. All my gifts, that were there the night before, were gone. I knew Mark was up to something, but how did he manage to take all my gifts, and what stunt was he trying to pull? I was getting agitated that he called and acted like nothing was up when I knew he was behind it, and he wouldn't tell me when he would be coming over later. So, decided to go take a shower, and just expected not to see him till later that evening cause he was being so wishy washy about the exact time. I got out of the shower and I could hear him talking in the living room. Just great! He came over without giving me time to really get ready! I wasn't happy about that. I had to put my pajamas back on because I couldn't run to my room from the bathroom without him seeing me in just a towel. But as soon as I opened the door, my sister had a camcorder in my face, and I could see Mark and his sister in the living room dressed like Santa and an elf. Then Santa Mark calls me over to come sit on his lap and proceeds to ask me if I've been a good girl this year. Oh my gosh... Then he pulls out a sack with all my presents, and I open them up one by one. They were all the gifts from my family to me. Then Santa says he's got a gift from Mark to deliver. Its a white box with a red bow, and I open it to find a shiny lump coal. Coal in it's diamond stage that is! 
Yep, Santa proposed to me. Sorry Mrs. Clause, move over. 

I could tell Mark was nervous, but he pulled the whole thing off so well, I had no way of knowing how he was going to do it. I knew he was going to propose sometime around Christmas, because I had worked with the jeweler to design the ring a month back. I just had no idea the extent of Mark's plans and costuming. :)

And that is why Christmas has a very special place in my heart.

Oh yeah, and I said yes. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

IKEA Addict?

We went to Ikea this evening to replace a lighting fixture that was on the fritz. It would turn off and on at random times on it's own. Mark thought maybe it was overheating. We bought it back in August, but they still took it back and gave us store credit to buy a replacement! Another reason why I love Ikea. Although, we did find out that return policies can vary between store to store. 

I'm glad it was a quick and easy fix to the lighting problem in the dinning room, because I was getting tired of eating in dark to the light of a lamp. We looked at other options for our replacement, but in the end I still loved the one we had the most. 

Am I an Ikea addict? A couple weeks ago, out of the blue, I just had an itch to go to Ikea. No reason to buy anything, I just NEEDED to go. Odd as this sounds, I like how at home I feel there. Not like, I like to pretend I live in one of the rooms in the showroom. No, I like the Marketplace. I like seeing everyday objects that we use, constructed differently, in vivid colors, or just improved upon. I think that's the industrial design part of me coming out. And I love finding those great deals!
Although, I have to say, there aren't any really great deals here in the Kohoku Ikea. Not like we used to find in the Woodbridge, VA or College Park, MD Ikeas. We found this shelf for $25 USD at a box sale in Woodbridge. Nothing was wrong with it, just the box was damaged, and the shelf wasn't harmed. I'm not sure why it had such a steep discount, but we're happy with our shelf! 

Here's some tips to successful shopping at Ikea. And so you don't get sucked in that place for HOURS because you're wandering around. 
1) Start from the end: don't go through the showroom if you know what you're looking for. You will just spend hours looking at the wonderful ideas they have on display. We always start from the cashier's and walk against traffic. 
2) While you're starting from the end, go to the As Is section first and look for deals on stuff because you never know if the item you're looking for is there at a nice discount. I've found great bed linens there, great box sales on furniture, and cheap lighting. 
3) Keep and eye out for yellow signs. They are dispersed all throughout the store and they have the best deals. I found a duvet cover with pillow sham for a single bed for $5 USD once. 
4) shop only on weekdays, tues, wed and Thurs are the best time  because there's less people there, and because those are the days that we have found good deals. Seems like there is always some promotion going on only on weekdays. wacky Wednesdays etc...

So today I finally got my Ikea fix, and I'm good for awhile. 

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Pickle, pickle, who's got the pickle?

Just thought I'd share one of our newer Christmas traditions that I found out more about online today. This was introduced to us by our friends Julie and Dave back when we were both young newlywed couples and would spend a lot of time playing, eating, FHEing together. They were like family.
I noticed that they had a pickle ornament in their Christmas tree. I had seen it in Target too, and wondered why on earth would you love pickles enough to put it in your tree. Julie explained that it was an old tradition in Germany, where it was the last ornament hung, hidden in the branches. On Christmas morning, the first child that finds it gets an extra gift and blessings for the new year.
I thought it was a cute idea to add more fun to Christmas morning, so I bought one at a Target after Christmas sale. And maybe this year we can introduce the game to Evan, even though Careese isn't going to be much competition. :)
Today, I did a little google search to find out more about this said German tradition. As it turns out it isn't German at all. Germans don't have any idea what this pickle ornament is about. hmm interesting. Its completely American. And Wikipedia says that it's a popular American tradition. It is?! How did this tradition slip past me all those years?
Well, anyway, what traditions do you have in your family during this holiday season?
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Monday, December 08, 2008

Mark and Careese in Taiwan

Mark and Careese got back from Taipei this evening. He said it was a good flight and bus ride back with Careese. She slept well and ate well and behaved as well as a newly minted 1 yr old can behave. Sounds like Mark had a good time with Careese, visiting his relatives, especially Careese's great-grandmother. And the family friend's wedding looked like a great time... I really should have him blog about it himself . I'm just the messenger. Here's some pictures he took, and the link to the web album. He actually typed the captions for the pictures, so I guess that's as close as we're gonna get to a blog post from Mark. ;)

I love this dress I picked up for Careese at the Silk Market in Beijing. SO CUTE!!! She looks like a doll! I'm glad I didn't let that vendor trick me out of this one for another not so cute dress during the haggling fest. I got matching shoes out of the deal too, but those don't quiet fit Careese yet.

Careese's way of saying "Cheese!"

Careese and Da Da

Careese and great-grandma

Daddy Daughter Weekend in Taipei

What did I do today? While Mark and Careese were flying back and Evan was at school, I was actually at a loss of what to do with myself. I didn't know what to do with SO much freedom. Too many options! If I knew about this sooner, I could have signed up for a massage session at the gym on base! Its ok, I did something just as therapeutic... shopping! Not just any shopping. Fabric shopping. I'm picking up some fabric for a friend that loves cute Japanese prints on fabric. I do too, so it was a treat for me to shop for her. Here's one I picked up for her, that I think I may have to go back and get some for myself!

I also did some online Christmas shopping, wrapped a few more presents, tidy the house, did some laundry and some dishes, took a nice loooong shower (alone!), and baked bread. Yeah, I'm amazed myself at my list of stuff I got done, including shopping (walked to the store too), all before 2pm. woo hoo!


In retrospect a day later: I just read over this post again, and looked at my list of things I accomplished before 2pm yesterday... and in retrospect, it's not that great of a list! ahahaha Its what mom's do on a daily basis with little thought on receiving thanks or making complaints. its the non glamorous side of mommyhood. I'm asked my mom, how she managed to cook pretty much everyday for the last 20+ years?! I was just a newlywed a the time and couldn't fathom doing that chore for 20+ years! She said you just do it because you have to, your family needs to eat, and you learn to love it. I'm coming up on 6yrs of marriage, and I really understand it now. It applies to all matters of work in general. No matter what work you do, you learn to love and appreciate it. I want to teach my children that, to like to work. To understand work is an integral part of attaining happiness on earth. Whether its doing the dishes or yard work or homework or your 9-5 job.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Last Chance!

I'm blogging a little earlier in the day because I'm planning on doing a lot of present wrapping and card making the rest of the day. I'm hearing on the base radio that the last day to mail out stuff in time for Christmas is the 10th. That's this WEDNESDAY!!! I'm in deep do do. 
Anyway, since my one month mark for NaBloPoMo is on the 11th, I would be missing the deadline. I thought about just having the drawing sooner, but then I'd be cutting out any last minute readers' comments. So, I'm still going to take names of commentors until the 11th. I figure who wouldn't want Christmas to last just a little longer by receiving a package of Japanese candies and snacks and doodads in the mail after Christmas? 
Here's what I'm planning... On the morning of the 12th, my time, I will have Evan draw a name from the Bucket-O-Fun and I will post the winner here. You get one slip with your name on it for every time you comment. I will contact the winner as well, just in case you don't get to read the blog that day. Sound good? Sorry, family, you will not be part of the drawing, as we've got Christmas presents for you anyway. hehehe

A quick report on church today. It didn't feel all that different without Careese around, because Mark usually takes her to his meetings. It wasn't different until we were getting in the car and driving off when I felt like I was forgetting something. Like I placed a cup on the roof of the car and forgot it was there and drove off. But its not a cup, it's Careese. 
Weird how these little moments are the ones that remind you of your children. 

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Mommy Son Movie Day

I slept in today, and it was great! I rarely do that anymore. Evan can entertain himself and even get things to eat on his own and he will stay in my room too. 
We had omelets for brunch. Evan helped me clean the house, do some laundry, and some of the dishes. Daily life is just a little less stressful with only two at home. But I'm surprised at how quickly Evan can make a mess in my living room all on his own. 
We did a little Christmas shopping today, and it was so much easier than trying to go shopping with two kids. Evan would still whine to me about wanting to go home or needing "something else I can do!" but its still easier than trying to wrestle with a squirrely Careese at the same time. 
I promised Evan that we'd go watch a movie after shopping, and he seemed excited at that. But he's never been to a theater before and he doesn't actually sit through a whole movie anymore. He used to watch Finding Nemo from beginning to end without budging from his seat. But now he can barely sit through watching 20mins of his fav Blues Clues. So I was curious to see how he would fair in the theater.
We went to watch Disney's "Bolt" in the theaters. Evan was still a little small for the chairs and kept getting angry at the seat for folding up on him while he was sitting in it. I had to keep my knee on part of his seat to solve that problem. There were scenes where there was a lot of action, like car chases, or explosions, or near misses, or evil dark looking bad guys, that Evan didn't like. He'd complain saying "I don't like this show". But there were also lots of cute funny scenes of the animals, and he'd laugh a the slapstick. Part way through, as I knew he would do, he complained about wanting something else he could do. He wanted to leave, and I told him that we paid to watch the movie and we couldn't just leave to do something else. He sat back down to watch and I gave him my cell phone to play games on it. 
The climax of the movie is a scene involving fire, and I think Evan has a fear of big fires burning houses because this was not the first time he got upset watching a fire on TV. He got really upset when Bolt jumped into the burning building and he tried to get the girl out of the fire with lots of near misses from falling burning debris. He was crying and saying "I don't like this show". I explained that it was just pretend and that they would be OK in the end, and showed him how to cover his ears because it was getting a little loud in there. 
After that he enjoyed the rest of the movie, and afterwards as we were walking back to the car, he said he had fun. And when we were walking from the car to the house, he was retelling me the funny parts of the movie and laughing.
So, overall, it was a good first experience at the theater for Evan. I think next time, I'll have to check to see what's really in the movie first so I can prepare him better. 

Friday, December 05, 2008

That's my sister!

Well, I sent Mark and Careese off to Taiwan today. They'll be gone till Monday. It was bad timing that Mark and Careese needed to catch the bus to the airport the same time Evan was coming home from school. So, Mark drove the van to the bus pickup place and I stayed behind to wait for Evan's bus. Lucky for us the bus was leaving a little later than usual, and as soon as Evan was dropped off, I threw him in the car and drove over to see if we could see the bus off. Yes! We still had time to see Mark and Careese before it drove off.
Careese was so cute! She immediately perked up and smiled and waved at us when she saw us through the window. I can't get enough of her smiles. She makes us melt. Evan laughed and made faces at her and she laughed. They are so funny together. I'm just in awe over how they have their own special bond to each other. I hope they grow up to be sweet to each other.
Evan understands that when people get on that bus they go to the airport and they are gone for a while. I think Evan didn't completely realize that Careese was leaving with daddy, even though we told him she was going.
As the bus was pulling away, Evan said, "that's my sister!" over and over. And he was actually a little teary eyed after the bus was out of view. Awww so cute! I talked to him on the way home that they would be home soon, and about the things we could do while they were gone, and he perked up.
I didn't think Evan would really miss Careese. At bedtime, he talked to me about the silly, funny things Careese does and he laughed. I've noticed more emotion from Evan lately. He actually gets his feelings hurt now. Like the other day, Mark and I were upset that he helped himself to chocolate dipped cookies without asking first, and we reminded him that it wasn't nice to take without asking first. Then I noticed that he was quiet, and had tears welling up in his eyes, and then a sniffle, and then quivering lip, and he was genuinely sad that he made a mistake. Usually things like this don't bother him, he'll say sorry and go on eating his cookie like nothing happened. So it's interesting to see this new side of him that's developing.
I talked to Mark, and he said Careese has been good. She's was overtired by the time the delayed flight allowed them to board, and she cried a bit on the plane. But Mark said a lot of the people on board were helpful. Thats good. I think it would have annoyed me after a while of people saying, "maybe she's hungry?" or "is she tired?" Mark's got more patience than me in that respect.
So, it sounds like Careese is doing well under Mark's complete supervision. I feel a little better that the flight went well. Its hard, as a mom, to let go of worrying about your kids. Not that I don't trust Mark, I'd still worry even if it were SuperNanny.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Love Careeses to Pieces

Another order for clips today, and now I'm making more sales of my clips in the real world vs. online. Which I guess is good because I don't have to pay the listing or paypal fees. So, maybe I should be putting some attention on sales other than online.
Speaking of clips, Careese has decided she will not wear them anymore. She will take them out as soon as I'm not looking. Isn't that ironic?! I made a little business of selling clips because of her, and now she won't wear them. Yep. The other day she was wearing her Christmas clips, and next thing I knew they were gone. I had no idea where they went, but I'm not worried because I know they will show up somewhere in the house. Later that evening, Mark told me he found her clips. Where were they? He was changing her diaper and found them in the diaper!! Ouch! Don't worry it wasn't a poopy diaper, but I still made sure to wash them off.
Speaking of Careese, she's surprisingly been really good around the christmas tree! I put only the plastic ornaments on the bottom of the tree just in case, but Careese has actually stayed away from them. Mark said she took one down when he was watching her, and she shook her head and said "ooooooooo" and tried to put it back. hahaha She's learning so much so fast. She's already able to follow very simple commands like, "come here for a diaper change" and she will lay down the mat. I can ask her to hand me things I point to, and she'll do it. And she's learned more sign language. She came up with her own way to sign "tired/sleepy" by taking her right hand and rubbing her cheek and eye. She can sign the command to make Lucy bark. Lucy doesn't follow the command, but its cute to see Careese try.
I forget how much little 1 yr olds can understand and know how to do. I'm so happy to have little Careese in our home to remind me.
Why am I writing so much about Careese today? Well, because Mark made the last minute decision to go to Taiwan this weekend to attend a family friend's wedding. In a passing comment we said, why don't you take one of the kids with you. The more we thought about it, the more it sounded like a good idea for Careese to go with Mark to Taiwan. Mark's grandma hasn't met Careese yet, it would give me a break for the weekend, and it would give Mark time with Careese and me with Evan.
I'm looking forward to time with Evan, but I'm really going to miss Careese. I'm the one that puts her to bed everynight. I'm going to miss that. I don't think I've ever been without her for more than a few hours. But I think it will be good for Mark to spend time with her. I hope it goes well!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Long day...

It's been a long day. I'm so tired, I'm gonna have to keep this short or else I will fall asleep on the keyboard. :) Careese was very nice to sleep in today. This never happens with her. She's such a light sleeper until this past week, where she'll sleep 11-12 hours a night now. Nice. With her sleeping in I had time to make and post more clips on my etsy site. Here's two more that I made that you're getting a sneak preview of. I haven't figured out which clips to pair them each up with so its sold in a set instead of individually.

We had a parent teacher conference with Evan's teacher today too. We found out that Evan's sensei had no idea that Evan was picking up any Japanese, because it turns out that he doesn't say much in school. If she speaks English to him, he'll go off speaking English back to her. But she doesn't understand much English, let alone a 3 yr old Evan's version of English. Seems like he gets into disagreements with the other kids, because he doesn't understand what they're saying. They actually try to help him putting on his coat or backpack, but he doesn't understand and gets upset at them. So, I'm going to have to help him understand what's going on in school until he learns more Japanese. But I'm glad to hear that he's got lots of friends in school that like to play with him and help him out!

I got our Christmas tree up finally. I usually get it up the day after Thanksgiving. I think I wasn't as motivated because we could only ship part of all the Christmas stuff we had to Japan. Long story short, we had to cut our shipment limit from half our stuff, to half of that. We had to make last minute decisions on what we absolutely had to bring with us to Japan. And our Christmas stuff took a hit. So we have a tree at least and some decorations for the tree and our stockings and a couple wreaths. And that's pretty much it. Since it was such a rush decision I didn't remember what we did and didn't bring with us and I'm finding out now, and it makes me a little sad that some of our fav and special ornaments got stored. Well, its the spirit behind Christmas that counts, right?
I'm beat. Putting the tree up myself and trying to keep the kids from tearing it down at the same time wore me out.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Teaching English

I "teach" English to some ladies at church once a week, in exchange for helping me learn Japanese. I'm in no way qualified to teach English. I don't have any curriculum really. We really are just a group of ladies that get together and chat in broken English. But today I did manage to get an activity together that challenged their language abilities. And unusually I had a large group of 5 ladies so it was great that I had an activity planned! I got the idea from this site. I came up with a beginning of a sentence and they have to complete it. And depending on their skill level, they could expound on that sentence. And they had to do it all in their heads, no writing it out first. I found out these ladies read and write well, but have a harder time coming up with what to say on the spot. Perfect challenge. An example is "My car..." and they would complete it "broke down twice last week". Then after that I would help them find better words or grammar structure, etc.
I was so happy it turned out great and it challenged everyone at different skill levels.
The only problem is, I don't really learn much Japanese. I guess I have gotten better at my listening skills, but as far as speaking I'm not even close to how much English they know. I'm taking classes on base once a week and its helped refresh my memory of the 3 yrs of high school Japanese I took. But without daily classes, I've got little chance of learning Japanese any time soon.
Good thing Evan's in Japanese kindergarten and he will be able to translate for me!
BTW, I've tried using Rosetta Stone to learn Japanese, and I highly recommend it for learning any language. It teaches you to recognize the writing/pronunciation/speaking without making you associate it with the English meaning. It basically throws you into the language and lets you to learn from your mistakes. Its pricey though, but if you ever get the chance to use it, its worth it.

Monday, December 01, 2008

December already?!

If time flys when you're having fun, then I'm having WAY too much fun doing housework!
A few people have asked me how I manage to squeeze in time to blog everyday. I've come up with my own strategy to keeping myself on task when I'm online. Cause trust me if I didn't have anything else to do, I'd be shopping online and reading blogs and watching my slingbox all day long! My laptop, when it is fully charged, only gives me about 2 hours of battery life. Pretty sad. Mark's mini EEE PC, gives him 8 hours, very nice but not useful in my strategy. When I want to be really productive online, I unplug my "lappy" and take it to another room far enough away from my charger that I'd be too lazy to go get it. :) This way I am forced to use the 2 hours to get everything I need to do before the battery runs out of juice!

Being that December is upon us, I've listed some new Holiday hairclips on my etsy site. Can't say Christmas hairclips, because that wouldn't be PC. hehehe jk. The double H just sounds better to me. Anyway, I've got a couple listed as U Pick type listings where you get to pick the styles you want in your set. Perfect for a gift that's customized just for that special little girl. And I will package all my clips ready for gift giving! All you have to do is specify which ones you would like in the notes section as you check out.
I love these clips cause they're simple enough for everyday wear, but they still can dress up an outfit too. I also have a new bow type clip that I made while I was experimenting with how to hide an alligator clip inside the bow so it would keep a low profile and not get too bulky and heavy by using less ribbon. I think I got it! It's made from beautiful satin ribbon from the Martha Stewart craft line. So I love how it looks and feels. Tre chic!

On the home front, Mark got home this evening from a looooong flight from Sydney. Yeay! That means its present time! Mark likes to buy food and candy when he's out of town, and I like that it doesn't add clutter to the house. Evan actually expects Mark to bring stuff home now, so on occasion he's said , "What's my surprise, Daddy?!" Today was different. He knew his daddy was coming home, so while I was organizing his room, he found some of his toys and things that looked like boxes. He then went through his toy chest to find little things that he liked, like his toy money, a plastic mardi gras necklace, his train, and a few other trinkets. Then he carefully packaged them in each of the four "boxes". He told me that they were presents for Daddy. How sweet! When Mark came home, he was so excited to give them to Mark and watch him open them too. After Mark opened them all, Evan and Careese proceeded to play with it and there was stuff all over the floor. After I while I asked Evan if he could clean it up and bring the stuff back to his room. Evan said, "No! Its not mine, its daddy's stuff!" Great, how am I going to get Mark to clean that mess up?!
Mark did come home with Tim Tams and other treats too. But he had another little surprise for me. I don't think I ever told him I wanted something opal, I know I wanted one because its Careese's birthstone, and Mark got me an opal pendent! I forgot Australia is known for opal. Mark said he's just that good at reading my mind. OK.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Evan's Music Concert

If you told me Evan could tambourine to the beat of a song, before I saw his concert, I would have laughed at you and said, "Evan? The boy that I can't even get to sing a song for me without intentionally messing up the words?" But I guess that's just a front, and really he can do a lot more than I know! The funniest part of this video is when Evan looks like he's spacing it and about to just do his own thing with the tambourine. He's a tambourine machine!

Evan Youchen Music Concert from beverly on Vimeo.

There was also a couple songs that his class sang. I say "his class" because he really just stood there the whole time with a blank stare. Poor kid, I don't think he realized that there'd be SO many people in the audience. It's ok. I don't think he knows all the words to the songs they sang anyway. I wish I had some better pictures and video, but the place was packed, and I bearly squeezed in there to get a video of the last tambourine number while wrestling Careese with my other arm.

Don't you just LOVE their uniforms? jk. It doesn't usually include that big sissy bow. That's just for performance time. But really, I don't mind the uniform on girls cause its cute on them, just not for boys. As they get taller the shorts seem to get shorter and shorter. The coat length seems to do that too. And I don't get why have to wear shorts year round, even in the dead of winter? They explain, that kids body temperature is higher than adults, and that to avoid illness, its best to not dress them too warmly to get their bodies used to the cold. I don't agree. You can get sick in the summer time just as easily as the winter. And getting accustomed to cold is not related to building immunity.

After finding out this is the school's thoughts on kids health, it explains why they sent Evan home for having a fever, when he really didn't have one. He was exactly at 98 degrees, normal. He was just warm from wearing the sweater-vest I put on him. They must expect kids to be at 90 degrees or something.

Anyway, today we went to our friend's home, on base, who invited us for a belated Thanksgiving dinner. They wanted to invite a couple over for dinner that only have Sundays off. That's fine by me, cause that's my third Thanksgiving dinner in a week! ahahaha. I'm a turkey, stuffed. They asked me if I wanted to take some leftovers home, since Mark is out of town. Yeah right! I've cooked two other turkeys this week, and have had turkey left overs in almost every meal since last Sunday! Thanks, but no thanks. The funny thing was two out of the three families there were at my house for Thanksgiving dinners this past week! Not at the same time, so they have no idea that we've all had turkey dinner at least twice this week. hehehe.

The kids had great time playing, but somewhere in the fun, Careese started crying in pain. I found her standing in middle of the room where the kids were playing. Her poor little #4 baby tooth that had just started poking out was bleeding. Not a lot of blood. It stopped quickly, but Careese would cry in pain hours later when I tried to wash her face before going to bed. My friend said that when he found her, she was standing and holding a toy in her hand. I'm guessing she had that toy in her mouth and someone bumped into her and it cut her gum right behind that new tooth. Poor baby. She was frustrated trying to suck on a bottle after that. I hope she's ok, and it doesn't get infected, or something extreme like her tooth falls out and she'll have a missing tooth till she's 6!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Shopping at the Bazaar

Evan, repeat after me, "Shopping makes mommy happy", "when mommy is happy, Evan is happy."
The base has a Bazaar a few times a year. I missed the last one and I HAD to go to the one today to see for myself what it was all about. I expected that it was gonna be antiques and fragile things everywhere, so I sat Evan down right before and lectured him about staying close to me, not touching ANYTHING without asking me first, and to not be a "crazy boy". And I had him repeat the mantra of the day, above, to me so I knew he understood my expectations when we went to the Bazaar.

They had the antique looking Asian furniture and fragile things like I expected, but there was more. Evan and Careese had a great time at one vendor that was selling fabric quiet books, fabric toys, and cute cute children's quilts. There was one quiet book I was eyeing, until I asked how much it was... $37 USD. Seriously? It says made in China. I know it didn't cost you even half of that to have it made. I had another one of those moments where my inner monologue said, "I can make that!"

However, now that I'm blogging about it, maybe my time and effort and the materials is worth more than $37 and I should just buy it because by the time I actually finish it, my kids will be in college. hmmm.

Anyway, I was very surprised to find at the Bazaar that there was a HUGE section dedicated to just fabrics! And at very good prices too. It was geared more towards quilting, because most of it was sold in 2 yard packages. But 2 yards could make for a skirt for me, or a dress for Careese.
I scoured the tables for cute fabric, and found these!
I would have never thought I'd find these cute prints at a Bazaar on base in Japan! These are prints from designers that I've seen online, and always wanted to get my hands on some. The best part is how much I paid for them. They were all $7 USD for 2 yards! If you haven't bought fabric before, that's a good price. Click here. Moda Funky Monkey. Apples and Pears. Zinnia Path Flowers.
I just wish I had gone earlier in the day, and that Evan and Careese had a little more patience, so I could have looked a little more. Oh well, I'm good for now. I'm thinking of making a summer dress and top for Careese in the fruit, a skirt for me in the flowers, a shirt for Evan in the monkey, and ties for Mark of each left over fabric! ;)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Home Alone

Mark's off globetrotting again. At least this time its just for a weekend. He's headed for the land down under. Its quite a long way to go just for a weekend conference, but such is his job. He was supposed to make stops in Thailand, Vietnam, and India, but all the unrest going on in those parts of the world these last few days has made him change his plans. Good thing.

I'm so jealous that he's going to enjoy beautiful summer weather in Sydney. He's promised me a case of Tim Tams when he returns. hehehe If he were to go to Thailand as planned, he was going to get me a case of Golden Mountain seasoning sauce. hahaha I can't find it around here. I did find it in Yokohama's Chinatown, but it was $6 USD! I still bought it, even though I used to get it for $2. I should have bought a caseload and shipped in out with our cargo. Anyway, its good stuff and all the other sauces at the commissary doesn't compare to the flavor. My Japanese friend that took me to Yokohama's Chinatown probably thought I was weird for searching high and low through all the stores to find just this exact bottle of sauce. :)

Lucy, our dog, misses Mark when he's out of town. Mark is usually her main source of heat, and if Mark is ever sitting or lying down, she's right there to sit on him. Lucy knows to keep her distance from the kids, because they don't know their strength against a 3 lb dog. But lately, when the kids are asleep on the couch, Lucy has decided to get brave enough and sleep with the kids! Its cute. Lucy will even growl at you if you try to disturb the sleeper she's sitting on!
She doesn't try to sit in my lap or sleep with me like this as much, and I think this is because I'm the "alpha dog" in the house. I've heard that when dogs sit in laps or on you its a sign of dominance. true or not I don't know. But Lucy knows if I walk into my bedroom and she's on my bed, she hops off immediately and goes to her kennel. Good dog.
Sorry this is kind of a random post today. Not much went on today. Just sent Evan to school, take Mark to bus, clean house, get the brakes changed on the Odyssey, shopped the Exchange's version of Black Friday, took a quick nap in the van when the kids fell asleep on the way home (I know I'm not the only mom out there that does this!), reinterpreted Thanksgiving dinner for dinner tonight, and put the kids to bed. There, that's a look into my daily life.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giant leaf pile

Imagine a pile about 25 feet by 15 feet by 4 feet.

Mark spent the morning and afternoon, against my advisement, in the cold and rain to finish up moving the leaves from our lawn to the road to get picked up. Its probably close to 100 yards, each trip, of hauling the leaves in a tarp to make this giant pile. Even our neighbors around us were amazed at how much we had. Well, I guess this is the result of us not raking for a couple weeks. Thanks for all your hard work, Mark! The yard looks great! for now.
We had our Thanksgiving dinner party, and it turned out great. But I'm beat from cooking all day. Its not that I cooked a huge meal. No, its because in between I had to take care of a sick and cranky Careese, and pick up Evan from school cause they said he had a fever. But I took his temperature and he was at 98.0! What the heck? Did his fever suddenly break while we were driving home? I think that he was just warm because I dressed him in a sweater because it was cold this morning. Oh well.
On this evenings menu: Smoked turkey, two kinds of mashed potatoes (cause I ran out of fresh potatoes and had to resort to the boxed kind to make the difference), stuffing, fresh baked bread, green beans, tofu quiche (not my making, interesting, but good), salad, sweet potato souffle, and pumpkin pie and ice cream.
Then the adults played a game of Two Truths, and a Lie while 4 out of the 5 the kids all disappeared into Evan's room and actually played nicely together. Wow, this never happens, when the kids are quiet that usually means they're getting into trouble! The game turned out great because even with limited language abilities, in either Japanese or English, you can still tell a lie! All in all, a fun evening.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Leave, Leaves! Leave!

I've racked leaves in the fall, but not like this. This was an all out barrage of leaves on us. It took almost 2 hours and 2 tanks of gas with the leaf blower to just make piles of leaves all around the house. I bagged 8 super large garbage bags worth and gave up, cause it hardly made a dent in the leaf piles. Its ridiculous! I thought this would be a quick job, but its gonna carry over to tomorrow. The picture here just shows one side of our yard. There's still 3 other sides!!! The worst part is that when you look up, there's still more leaves in the trees just mocking you saying, "go ahead, rack! rack till your hands bleed, cause we got more for ya!"

Its unfortunate that these trees are just oak trees, and they don't have beautiful fall colors. At least Evan was having the time of his life. When will he ever get to play in giant leaf piles up to his knees? 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Crafty Mess

I don't mind a mess in my home, as long as it's a crafty mess.
Well, its Christmas card season again, and honestly I've been thinking about it since I sent out my last card for 2007! I loved how well last years turned out, but now that I had set the bar pretty high, what would I do this year to match it?!
On my last trip to Seattle, I pretty much went on a shopping binge at Michael's. Evan's been playing with fun foam stickers since the wee age of 1 and a half. hehehe So, when I found these cute penguin stickers, these craft wheels could not be stopped from spinning.

Child labor put to work for the sake of Christmas cards. Tip: You gotta start early if you intend on your kid being involved in making at least 50 of these to be mailed out in time for Christmas. Child labor isn't the most efficient.

And here's a sneak peek at our fun foam Christmas cards. This is one of my favs that Evan and I made together. The blank stare in the right penguin makes me smile.

Now, I'm a bit stuck because finding A6 sized (5 3/4 x 4 3/8 inch) envelopes in Japan isn't easy. And the military exchange has little selection when it comes to office supplies. Japan has a whole different standard for paper and envelope sizes. I might have to get creative here.
Here's something I learned about letter writing in Japan. You won't find any envelopes with gum to seal them shut. Nope, its offensive to lick an envelope! I never thought of it that way, but I guess I wouldn't want someones spit all over my birthday card. So, all those peppermint flavored gummed envelopes from Hallmark, are just plane rude.
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Monday, November 24, 2008

Beijing Pictures

Beijing 2008

Here they are, get'em while they're hot!

It was a good trip, despite the below freezing weather. The one thing I learned is that, I don't quite relate with the mainland Chinese, more specifically Beijing Chinese. Or their way of thinking. But I think by the end of our trip, I understood where they were coming from, even if I didn't agree.

My cousin Faye pointed out to me that people are still influenced by their communist history. For instance, there is little importance placed on aesthetics or flourishes in design/architecture because during the Cultural Revolution they pulled up grasses and trees because it was an unnecessary aesthetic. Things like that, that I didn't think about that make the Chinese the way they are.

I don't speak Mandarin. Very very little, that a foreigner with a phase book probably has an advantage over me. hehehe But I can understand it a little better. Oh, but the different Chinese accents was tough to get used to.

So for me to speak a language is so integral in understanding the culture. And not being able to speak Chinese, even though I looked the part, was hard. I just felt like people were wondering what was wrong with me when they spoke to me? I guess it helped that I had two kids and was dressed differently that people could tell I was a foreigner. A lot of people thought I was from Singapore. Which isn't too far off from the truth. My father is from Singapore, and I lived there for a while as a kid.

So, it was a good trip for me because I was there observing real Chinese culture, cause I don't consider myself really Chinese, I got to understand a little more about myself. I hope we'll be able to make it an annual trip to China, now that we're just a stones throw away, and we can stay at the same Westin hotel too!

P.S. Just a reminder that I'm taking on the challenge of blogging once a day for a month, and honestly its not an easy thing for me to do. So to thank my faithful readers keeping up with me on my 'quest' of a blog a day, I'm keeping tabs on who comments and how many times too, so at the end of the month (Dec 11) I will have a drawing to give away a package of Japanese treats and goodies to one lucky reader. All you have to do is comment on any post between Nov 11 - Dec 11. That's it! Good luck!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Happy Japan Labor Thanksgiving Day!

Some of the holidays in Japan give me a chuckle. Like today's holiday. There isn't any celebration of it, you just have it as a day off. There's a bit of history to it, but all the Japanese I've asked have no idea about where it came from. Oh well, its a day off of school for Evan. And a day off for me to get up early to get him ready for school. :)
In light of the American Thanksgiving coming up, we celebrated a little earlier with some of our Japanese friends from church. They were really just wanting to schedule a home teaching visit, but we turned it into a Thanksgiving feast. hehehe
I forget how different Americans live compared to the Japanese, because when my friend came in to help out in the kitchen, as I was putting in a tray of croissants to be baked, she was astonished at how huge my oven was. Then she noticed how big the stove was in general. She turned around and the fridge, in its American huge-ness, had her at "SUGOII!" Then, as we were cleaning up after dinner, she noticed the dishwasher, and asked if she could look inside. I'm glad Mark did the dishes! She was blown away that there was not just one row of racks but two, and you had to stoop down to see the dishes all the way in the back. She called her husband in to look see and they admired how much cabinets and counter space there was. Honestly, I was amazed myself, when we first moved in, at the amount of cabinet and counter space we had!
While this whole event made me smile, apart of me feels guilty for living so well in Japan. And we pay almost nothing to live here too. While the rest of the country is making due with the small living space they have, we have the gall to complain about all the leaves we have to rake up on the 75 ft of lawn that we're in charge of around our house. I don't blame the Japanese for complaining about the American bases taking up their land. Thats why I feel like I need to play host to our Japanese friends often that they get to share in our abundance. Granted our home is still small compared to American standards, it's by far less cramped than most Japanese homes.
As for dinner, it was worth the hours of prep time. It was delicious. I don't think Thanksgiving is truely Thanksgiving without company to share it with. And to share it with company that rarely eats a traditional thanksgiving meal, made it even better. We got a smoked turkey this year, and it was SO good! Is like eating kaula pig, but turkey. And it only takes 1.5 hours to warm up, so it freed up my oven for other baked goodies like sweet potato souffle and fresh baked croissants. I'm thinking of heading out to the commissary tomorrow to pick up another yummy smoked turkey to just keep in my freezer for another day. hehehe
The pumkin pie I made turned out good. Although, can someone tell me why the pie cracks down the middle? Is it because it cools too quickly?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Home and pumkin pie

Well, we're home again, and its funny to see how excited the kids are to be home. Evan went straight to his toys. "My toys! I missed my toys!" and Careese was walking all around the house in and out of rooms. Its like she missed walking and getting in to things.
As soon as we got home there was little time to relax, we had invited some friends from our Japanese Ward over for dinner the next day. So we had to go shopping for food before the commissary closed. We decided that since it was Japan's Labor Thanksgiving day tomorrow, and American Thanksgiving this Thrusday, we should have Thanksgiving dinner. Although, I don't know if there are special foods for Japanese Thanksgiving. After the kids went to bed, I made pumkin pie. Those are one of those foods that just remind you of home. The warm aroma of pumkin spices and homemade crust filling our house, reminds me of Thanksgivings and Christmases with extended family where we'd consume 6-8 pies. I can't wait to dig into that pie!
Evan was eatting at the table today, and while he was eating was telling us about being in my cousin Faye's class. He said that there was a boy in his class that looked like this, and Evan pulled the outside corners of his eyes up! I don't know if he's imitating how the other kid looks of if they were making funny faces at each other, but it was funny to see Evan explain how someone looks like that. He also was telling ing me about how he "do lots of things in Faye's class" and "Faye do other things" and "a kid pushed me, Faye help me be happy. Its not nice to push" Then we asked Evan if Faye was his hero, and he said "um, maybe. maybe not"

Friday, November 21, 2008

Beijing Day 6 - Last Day

It was our last day here in China, and I wore myself out trying to go shopping at the Silk and Pearl Market with Careese, sans stroller. I thought I was gonna die. She is SO wiggly and did not want to be held at all. I was carrying her and a huge backpack, I over packed for this day trip, and bags from shopping. I need a vacation for my back.

On a side note, Beijing is very non-stroller-friendly. The subway is the worst. There are stairs everywher, with elevators that aren't turned on or out of service. We actually found ONE that worked and got us right to where we wanted. Of course it was at Olympic Park! And taxis are kind of dinky so our stroller at times had trouble fitting in the trunk. But it is just a little longer than the average stroller. There are few parks with playgrounds
or even areas to sit comfortably. There are ZERO changing stations in bathrooms. You're lucky if you find one with a big enough counter. And there are very few ramps in public spaces, for example, the Forbidden City or getting in and out of resturants. I don't know what people who are in wheelchairs do; probably never leave their apartments. So, if you're planning a trip with little kids to Beijing, make sure your hotel has amenities for kids, that you have a compact stroller that you can carry easily up and down stairs, plan on taking the cab a lot, get in shape to carry your little ones in slings/backpacks/carriers, and prepare for locals to tell you what they think (good or bad).

I took Evan to my cousin Faye's Montessori class, and he had a good time there while I went shopping. Glad I did cause it was tough enough with Careese. It was a little bit of help with Careese with me barganing, because I could use her as an excuse for walking away to get the vendors to lower their prices. I just put her on the ground and she takes of running and I just chase after her, and the vendors get frazzeled that you're not taking their offer seriously. Funny thing is even after the sale is completed they throw in their two cents about your kid. Twice I was told that I needed to feed Careese, she looked hungry cause she was playing with her fingers in her mouth. If they only knew that I just fed her and that she's teething. Anyway, I actually enjoy haggling a bit. Its kind of fun to watch the vendors squirm. Although, I don't think I'm that great at getting a deal, I can at least get it at a good price. I'd like to see a pro haggler in action, so I can learn. hehehe

After an exhausting morning, I went to Faye's class to hang out and let Careese run around and just rest. We met up with Mark after he was done with his conference and we went to dinner at a "hole in the wall" restaurant. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but the inside is very cool. It looked like a updated old tea house you see in Chinese movies. The food was great! The sweet and spicy fried shrimp was to die for. It was one of those Chinese dishes were you eat the shell with the meat, It was good.

funny thing Evan said to me today when I gave him his crakers for a snack, "Oh, thank you, Mommy, you give me crack!"

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Beijing Day 5

I'm so super wasted tonight. I almost fell asleep on the bed trying to get my kids to bed and forgetting I needed to blog. We did a lot of walking today. I'm gonna keep this one short and show you more pictures from what we did today in China.

After moving hotels, we went to Summer Palace Park. It was nice and just a little windy, but much less bitterly cold. Too bad we didn't have too much time there.

Beijing Olympic Park. Hard to imagine that the Summer Olympics were just 3 months ago because it's so cold now! The place in huge. I need a foot rub. The kids were troopers for hanging in there for us to go see it.

I will post more about today later. now, sleepy time.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Beijing Day 4

I'm blogging from my phone today. It has a keypad but typing with your thumbs isn't very fluid. I find myself trying to keep a grip on my phone from slipping out from my hands. And I'm fighting the urge to type like I'm typing a txtmg.
We took Evan to the Montessori Kindergarten that my cousin Faye teaches at, for just a couple hours. He's been giving us his usual i need something else I can do speech when we're out. So we thought it be good for him to go run around with Faye and some kids his age. He had fun despite the usual pushing incidences between him and the other kids.
While Evan was with Faye, Mark and I took Careese with us to go eat hotpot for lunch. It was perfect to have on a cold day like today! We ordered the double pot, where you can have two different soups in the same pot, cooking at the same time. Glad we did that cause Mark's side, mahla, was way too spicy for my tastes buds. I guess I'm not Chinese enough to take it. hehehe

I was going to go to a market, near the hotel, that sells clothes and bags and stuff like that, and try haggling, but the kiddies were so cranky that I figured it was probably better for my sanity that they got a nap in. Especially, since we were going to church that evening to see Elder Oaks speak to the branch members here. Great timing for our trip!

Elder Oaks is a great speaker, and his talk touched on how we can know for ourselves, with commitment to God in our prayers, if the gospel was true. And it was also nice that he touched on how we should handle the current predicaments that the downturn of the economy has placed the global family in. Even though, it was tough listening to him speak while making sure the kids were happy and not making people around us unhappy, it was refreshing to hear. Makes me want to go back and read conference talks again. I was so excited to shake the hand of an Apostle for the first time!

Afterward, it seemed like everyone converged on Dairy Queen downstairs, including Mark. Then we went out to a late night Korean BBQ place. OOOOoooooooh Its been such a long time since I've had Korean BBQ. I need to find one in Japan! Surprisingly, even though we were at the restaurant till way late, Evan was being SO well behaved! It probably has something to do with my cousin Faye sitting next to him. One thing I've learned about traveling with young kids, be flexible and plan for downtime between things and always carry wipes. hehehe

Its our last night in this hotel. And I'm actually typing to you on my phone from the bathroom, Its huge in here! I seriously love this bathroom. I love the colors, I love the clean lines. I love the lighting, And I love the amazing views! The housekeeping lady must think I'm weird for dragging the chair and ottoman in here. hehehe but it's nice to hide out in here while the kids are napping.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Beijing Day 3

After yesterday's day out in the cold, we were more than happy to stay indoors today while Mark was at his conference. Evan actually asked to stay in the hotel. The hallway out side our room is in a circle, with the elevators in the middle, and it makes for a great "track" for Evan to go crazy on and for Careese to practice walking/running.

Careese is such a light sleeper, Evan and I had to hide out in the bathroom to keep from waking Careese up. Its nice that we have a nice big bathroom, with a TV in it! While we were waiting for Careese to finish her nap, Evan fell asleep while playing the games on my phone. He actually stayed there for the next 2 hours too.

We went out with my cousin Faye and her roommate for Peking duck today. Its like when we had sushi in Japan. It's so cool! We love how cheap food is here. We could feed four and Evan for just under $50. And we had ordered two ducks along with all other food we ordered. We love China for cheap food and taxi rides. Tomorrow we'll try going to a market to try our hand at haggling. Should be fun.

Part of our hotel package includes the daily Bathology. I've never soaked in a tub like this! And that it's a nightly ritual, is fabulous! Mark has made sure everyday to call and schedule this for me and picks the different aroma themes for me too. Such a wonderful husband! I feel bad for all the flowers that were sacrificed for it. But I can't deny that my skin hasn't felt softer. hehehe Everyone, except Careese, has had some time in the nightly event. I have no idea if Careese could even be in the tub with all those oils and bath salts, but I'm gonna guess its not a good idea. Anyway, we actually have to move hotels for the last two days here, and I'm gonna really miss my evening bath and chocolates.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Beijing Day 2

I woke up to the most wonderful sound this morning. Careese and Evan laughing and playing peek-a-boo together. I wish I could have video of it. Careese has started doing it herself and Evan was right there to make funny noises at her. Its so much better than waking up to screaming and crying.

We went to Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City today. It was just as big and grand as I imagined it would be. I guess I've seen too many movies about the Forbidden City that it didn't really surprise me. Although, the living quarters of the city were a little less grand as I imagined it would be. Most likely because of how movies played it up.
However, it was so amazing to be there and realize that this is where history was made. In Tienanmen Square, I just kept thinking about how as an 8 yr old watching the news about the protests, and seeing it's effects on the people in Hong Kong, where I as living at the time, was so profound to me that I am standing right where it all happened. In the Forbidden City, it was so amazing to think about how China has changed so much in the last few hundred years, and this huge structure has been here for it all.
It is freezing here in Beijing. It gets below freezing at night. So, being in Tienanmen and Forbidden City with two kids, was tough. We just kept going from semi-heated room to semi-heated room to keep the kids warm. We were ok because we were doing all the walking. Poor kids. Glad I over dressed them.
Surprisingly the subway and the Forbidden City is very non-stroller friendly. I thought after the Olympics especially that there would be enough ramps to get around with, but nope. There are lots of stairs in the subway and a lot of levels in the Forbidden City.

We got a lot of attention with our kids and stroller. Some good, some bad. We think it must be an odd sight in a country that has pushed the one child policy to see two kids. People would keep asking us if they were twins. "Ummm yes, Evan was just born 2 years earlier". And also we have a sit and stand type stroller and that's not common to see. And its orange so you don't miss it. SO, to say the least, we felt like a freak show walking around. They'd stare and talk and I'd stare right back and talk about them too.
It was fine, until people started giving their opinions about our kids. That's where it crosses a line with me. I understand that its just the Chinese thing to do. Actually, its the Asian thing to do. But they obviously don't know the situation, and to have them tell me how to raise my kids, is condescending. Its not a matter of respecting my elders, because I do. But its because a lot of them making the judgements to me were probably my age, not even married, or with kids. Things like pointing out that part of Careese's leg was exposed while I was trying to wrestle her to stay wrapped up in her blanket is just annoying. Another lady, kept showing up and telling us that kids shouldn't be out in this weather at all. Why doesn't she go bother the other parents of kids who are there too? It really got to me and by the end of the trip, I took my frustrations out on Mark. I shouldn't have and I'm sorry. I'm grateful I have a forgiving husband that puts up with me in my bad moods.

While I enjoyed our trip to the Forbidden City, I could do without the heckling. Fortunately, we did meet some very helpful people at the Forbidden City that helped us get around with our stroller, and returned Evan's dropped hat to us, and that restored my faith in Chinese people.

I think, though, after all that, We're going to skip on going to the Great Wall. Its going be cold and windy and its out of our way and its not going to be much fun for the kids. We'll probably be back here again, so we'll save that for the next trip. So now I gotta find some indoor type stuff to do. hmmm and all I can come up with is shopping...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Beijing Day1

I made it. After a long day of travel, I made it with two kids to Beijing. I spent the whole morning tring to get so much done that I almost missed the bus to the airport. I was pullling the luggage to the bus, when it started to pull away. I dropped the bags, and chased after the bus. The bus driver looked peeved that I was holding him up. Until, he saw me run back to the car and pull out two kids and a stroller and carry on bags.
Two hours on the bus feels like an eternity with a 1 yr old. Careese doesn't sit well or sleep well. She finally slept for me for just 30 mins. Better than nothing.
We hung around in the kids play area of Narita for an hour, which really helped with tiring out the kids for the flight. Careese got SO much attention at the gate, She was waddling around the gate with her bottle in her mouth, and walking right up to strangers. She has no fears of strangers, and that worries me that she could get snatched easily.
The flight was almost 4 hours long. Evan was tired, but didn't sleep, so it made dinner time tough. He played more than ate. But overall he did ok and didn't cause too much of a disturbance till 20 mins before landing. There was another 3 yr old girl on the plane that would mimick his outbursts, that would just get Evan to say more and louder.
Careese slept for an hour, that gave me time to finish watching Mama Mia. hehehe.
As soon as I got off the plane a lady cleaning the bathrooms already gave me her optinons about something to do with the kids and my stroller. I couldn't quite understand her cause of her strong Beijing accent, but I understand unsolicited advice when I hear it. I just pretended to not understand and left. I understand that this is just how the Chinese are, and I've grown up with it. But come on! I haven't even left the airport yet! anyway, I knew that it was gonna be in for a culture shock going from Japan and China.
My cousin Faye met me at the airport, and a little later, Mark showed up too.. He just came in from Korea an hour before me and headed to the hotel first to drop off his stuff.
It was a good thing he did too, because with my two bags and stroller, we couldn't all fit in the cab. The cab people told us to take a van, but it was going to cost four times as much as taking a cab. Why not take two cabs then? But we decided to take the train. The airport express. It was a little tough getting around with a sit and stand type stroller and the elevators all over the place being out of order. My opinion, I think the Chinese just did enough to fix up the place for the Olympics, but not to last. While we were waiting for someone to come turn on the elevator for us, Mark decided to lean on the railing when it suddenly fell off the wall. It looked like the only thing holding it was a couple gobs of epoxy. hehehe. They never came to turn on the elevetor for us, and two of the people that work there helped us carry the luggage and stroller up and down in the tunnels of the subway. At lease they helped carry.
We finally made it to the hotel, and the room we got was well worth it. The bathroom is huge! It's what I want my dream bathroom to be like. Part of the hotel package is they will draw a bath for you every night, with bath oils, flower petals, and candles. Niiiice. And they included a foot massage machine in the room too. Niiiiice.
No internet access in the hotel room without paying WAY too much. There is free WIFI in the lobby. So it will be a little tough keeping my goal of posting once a day. But I will do it.
Sorry no pictures yet. I have to find where I packed the USB cord.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

An afternoon in Yokohama's Chinatown

I wouldn't have gone to Yokohama if it wasn't for my friend Megumi from church. I'm so deathly afraid of getting lost by myself, in Japan. The roads are so confusing, and they aren't all named, or two roads share the same route number. Its gonna be a while before I venture outside my 10km radius on my own. hehehe. I used to make fun of people that never left the beltway outside DC. And here I am.
So, here's some pics from the afternoon.
Nov 08 Yokohama Chinatown

I was surprised at how pushy the Chinese will get to get the Japanese to buy stuff. Weird to see that contrast in cultures here. I thought it was funny that my friend Megumi said the Japanese know how different Chinese restaurant service and salesmen are, almost rude in the Japanese eyes. After being in Japan for a few months now, I can totally see it!
I'm heading off to Beijing today, and I'm preparing myself for a total culture 360.